The Implications of Mandates in International Cyber Affairs by Eneken Tikk-Ringas

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Eneken Tikk-Ringas is a Post-Doctoral Fel- low at the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of International Affairs at the University of Toronto, and Lecturer on Cybersecurity Law at Tallinn Technical University. She has worked at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and has advised the Estonian government on cyber issues. Dr. Tikk-Ringas has published several books, articles and presentations on legal and policy aspects of cybersecurity and is a frequent speaker at strategic cybersecurity events.

"The search for a one-stop-shop for all cyber prob- lems, such as the United Nations, as has been pro- posed by some nations, ignores the existing concepts.
"Before any ‘cyber issue’ can be discussed in an international organization, it is there- fore imperative that the context of the issue is clearly defined..."

Creating an international cyber governance and security regime faces two critical challenges: jurisdiction-shopping by nations for friendly venues to discuss and promote their and their allies’ strategic goals and messages; and, at the same time, general confusion and uncertainty regarding the scope of authority and substance of international cyber talks, resulting in duplicated efforts and frequent non-actionable guidance.

To ensure the consistency and efficiency of international organizations addressing international cybersecurity issues, the term ‘cyber’ must be contextualized within the broader issue. Defining ‘cyber’ for the purposes of a particular discussion and referring to the organization’s mandate to address the issue are two sides of the same coin, as one component alone will not suffice to distinguish and empower a line of decisions and action.

Given that the term ‘cyber’ can, depending on one’s perspective, accommodate anything from information society development, e-commerce, e-governance and cyber crime to national or international peace and security threats, the quality of any discussion in the field depends on how well the issue is defined and how accurately the expected remedy is outlined. (purchase article...)